Mark Auslander named MSU Museum director

Posted at 9:11 AM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 09:11:20-04

Mark Auslander, a sociocultural anthropologist, has been appointed director of the Michigan State University Museum.

He will lead one of the earliest established museums in the nation, and the state’s first museum to receive Smithsonian affiliate status.

“I’m honored to join the MSU Museum, a museum known for the remarkable depth and breadth of its scientific and cultural collections and for its innovative exhibits and public programs,” said Auslander, who will begin his position on July 1. “I’m thrilled to be working with this dedicated and imaginative group of museum professionals. Our shared vision is to deepen and extend the museum’s impact across campus, in the diverse communities of mid- and southeast Michigan and around the world.”

Auslander is currently at Central Washington University, where he oversees the museum studies program and directs the university’s Museum of Culture and Environment. At CWU he developed innovative approaches for engaging faculty and students in the physical and biological sciences, the interpretive and quantitative social sciences and arts and humanities in collaborative projects.

In addition, Auslander served on the exhibition development core team for the Smithsonian National Museum for Natural History’s permanent exhibition of African/Diaspora. His scholarly work includes papers on African witchfinding movements, Zulu iconography in global contexts, popular narratives of slavery in the rural American South and “living history” reenactments of traumatic events, including lynching and slave auctions. His book, “The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family,” received two national academic awards.                                                                                         

“We look forward to Mark’s leadership at the MSU Museum,” said Hiram Fitzgerald, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement. “His ability to build transdisciplinary collaborations will stimulate innovative and creative exhibits. These exhibits will address critical societal issues and provoke deliberative dialogue, not only about the historical context of contemporary issues but also about possible solutions.”

The MSU Museum has nearly 1 million objects and specimens in anthropology, natural science, folk arts and history from around the world.